FROM the materia medica description of Natrum phosphoricum and Natrum arsenicum it is practically impossibly to distinguish one from the other. If one notes the symptom of the two drugs as recorded in the materia medica, one finds they are practically identical.
Natrum phos. does not usually have the history of extremely rapid loss of weight which is associated with Natrum ars., nor have the patients been very much overweight to begin with. On the whole, there is rather more mental prostration in Natrum phos. than in Natrum ars., and there is not the same degree of nervous, restless anxiety.
Natrum phos. patients are very tired, and they feel that talking is a dreadful effort. There may be a certain amount of bashfulness in Natrum phos. which is not commonly met with in Natrum ars. Rather than the inability to concentrate of Natrum ars., there is liable to be extreme forgetfulness in Natrum phos. Rather than the typical Natrum ars. fear of something going wrong with them physically, the Natrum phos. patient tends to get a sensation of something unpleasant going to happen, particularly during the night.
Another pointer to the selection of Natrum phos. is that the patient is very likely to suffer from headaches after any mental effort-a symptom which is not so noticeable in Natrum ars.
In both drug pictures there is a great sensitivity to cold, but there is none of mental of the mental relief in the open air in Natrum phos. that you find in Natrum ars. : in fact, Natrum phos. is very sensitive to the open air or to draughts, and very liable to take cold from any draught of air or change of temperature.
Both have very much the same feeling of general weakness and an aggravation from exertion. Both are more tired and exhausted when they are hungry, and rather better after a meal.
In Natrum phos. there is rather more general sensitiveness. They are more sensitive to noise and to music; more sensitive to their surroundings, and more aggravated by electrical storms than the Natrum ars. patients.
So far as the foods which upset them are concerned, the two drugs are identical. They are both upset by fats, cold food or drink, milk, fruit, sour things of any kind-sour wine, fruit, drinks.
Their desires have some distinguishing points. Natrum phos. patients often develop a definite desire for alcohol and for highly tasting food. Sometimes there is a desire for eggs and for fried fish. Both of them have a desire for cold drinks, but the aggravation from cold foods-the nausea following them-seems more marked in Natrum ars. than in Natrum phos.
Another helpful, point : most Natrum phos; patients have a very thick, yellow coating to the base of the tongue. At times they complain of a horrible sensation as if they had a hair on the soft palate or on the tongue, which causes acute irritation.
A complaint from which Natrum phos. patients are likely to suffer is a definite ulceration in the stomach, associated with a good deal of acid dyspepsia and flatulence. And, as in Natrum ars., they are liable to suffer from alternating attacks of diarrhoea and constipation. There is less likely to be an actual haematemesis in Natrum phos.: but more likely a sour mucous vomit.
In many of these cases, when the patient is hungry, there is a very empty sensation which is not relieved by eating. Not infrequently you hear the report that they develop a gnawing epigastric pain which comes on about two hours after a meal.
In contrast with the generalised irritation of the skin found in Natrum ars., in Natrum phos. there is liable to be a very irritating, localised eruption round about the ankles. Both complain bitterly of intense coldness of hands and feet but Natrum phos. cases do not complain of the coldness of the back of the Natrum ars. patient and there is not the pain between the scapulae.
Male Natrum phos. patients are very liable to suffer from extremely exhausting, recurring emissions.